Plates, cups and utensils

fork, utensils

The majority of your meals you’ll probably eat at your home camp while sitting around with other campmates. And you may often snack in your tent. Other times you’ll be out and about and be gifted food. The way I prepare for these different scenarios is to pack two categories of utensils and such: home use and travel use.

Utensils, cups and plates I keep in my tent and at camp

A lipped plate with built-in bowl can be rather handy

When I’m with a camp that provides meals, I often use a chip-and-dip plate for eating meals.As I’m usually eating, sitting down and not at a table, anything soupy or rather liquid can potentially spill off my plate. Any food that is soupy goes in the dip area, and the lipped plate keeps food from spilling onto the precious playa.

When I’m providing my own food while camping, I bring a simple metal enamel-covered plate. Anything will do, though you probably want to pack something lightweight and non-breakable. (I really did see someone show up once with heavy pottery plates, bowls, mugs and such. Pretty, but not so practical. Well, not in my definition of the word.)

Paper plates are not a sin

It’s totally okay to bring paper plates to Burning Man, though for the love of God, no plastic utensils, please. (Metal utensils are easy enough to wash, and they are so much more civilized and elegant!) Grey water is a nasty aspect of life on the playa, and the fewer dishes that need to be washed, the less grey water, theoretically. So you can see why it’s not a sin to bring paper plates.

Distinct silverware helps you find your cutlery when you leave it around camp

Bring distinct silverware, something that makes it really obvious that 1) this silverware belongs together as a set and 2) it belongs to someone and is not unclaimed or generic camp-kitchen silverware. Distinct silverware also makes it easier to find your own utensils if you accidentally leave them around somewhere in your camp. It happens.

An example of distinct silverware is a utensil set with a forest green plastic handle or some artistically shaped handles. Also, I find that anything replicating a sense of home can have profoundly valuable impact on my emotional state when in a vast and harsh environment, and I offer that eating your meals with real silverware will have a positive impact here.

Remember to–

  • Put your name on your plates, cups and silverware!
  • Use white gaffers tape (or something distinct) to label your items.
  • Bring duplicates of everything, just in case.

Bring several small cups and bowls

Bowls and cups, beyond simply food consumption, come in quite handy, I find. Pack several, or many. Bring ones that stack. Bring different size bowls too.

Cloth napkins are so civilized

Using cloth napkins means you have that much less trash to pack out, and that’s always a good thing! Plus, it’s more elegant and civilized to use a cloth napkin. When is the last time you were out for a nice meal and your table was set with paper napkins? Right.

Part of the charm and experience at Burning Man is often the juxtaposition of the harshness of the environment with, for example, the elegance and civilization of a gourmet, home-cooked meal. These are easy enough to find at thrift stores.

Several small hand towels to reduce paper towel use

Use cloth rather than paper towels when and where you can to decrease the trash you have to haul out. Paper towels have a place and a use at Burning Man, for sure, but cloth towels…oh, how lovely.

Bring extras and collapsible versions of the above for your travel bag

While there are no guarantees that you’ll receive gifted food, it’s quite likely that you’ll come across such an opportunity. With drinks, it’s a given that you’ll come across gifted drinks.

And while camps and people tend to be pretty thrilled about their gift and you enjoying it, no one is thrilled about lending you a cup, providing you a plate or passing out disposable cups that just create MOOP. If you want to receive what the playa provides, be ready.

I feel infinitely more organized when I keep specific utensils, cups, bowls and plates in my tent for meals around camp and bring another set for my travel bag. While I lean elegant for my camp-based eating utensils and such, I go for lightweight, re-purposable and simple items for my travel bag.

Here, a spork is better than a full set of metal utensils, a collapsible bowl rather than a hard plastic one, and a mug with a screw-on lid and handle rather than a cup. And, well, some playa dust and my clothes probably function best as my napkins, if needed, when out and about.


Food of Burning Man

Food gifting at Burning Man

And just a nice video about Burning Man

Kinda got me excited for the event watching this…

Fork photo by Ursula Spaulding on Unsplash

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